Brain implant electrodes have many uses, ranging from controlling prosthesis to monitoring nerve activity,media New Atlas reported. Now that scientists have developed a flexible product, they will soon be more effective than ever. Typically, electrodes are mainly made of rigid metal. As a result, inflammation and build-up of scar tissue may occur when they are implanted into soft brain tissue. Led by Professor Zhao And, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, teams from the United States and China set out to develop a more patient-friendly option.
The researchers started with the known PEDOT:PS conductive polymer. In the usual form, the substance is very liquid and fluid – intended to be used as a coating and not as a building material for stand-alone objects. The researchers addressed this limitation by freezing peDOT:PS, removing its liquid composition and leaving behind a dry matrix of conductive nanofibers. These fibers are then mixed with water and organic solvents to produce a sticky hydrogel that can be squeezed out of a 3D printer’s nozzle to form a rubber-like electrode.
In laboratory tests, the electrodes were implanted into the brains of live mice and successfully used to read electrical signals from individual neurons. This signal is produced by the brain in the form of ions and is usually detected only on the surface of traditional metal electrodes. Because MIT electrodes are not the case, scientists think they should be more accurate when reading signals.
“The beauty of conductive polymer hydrogels is that they have a soft mechanical properties, they are made of ion-conductive hydrogels and porous sponges with nanofibers, and ions can flow in and out,” the team said. Sensitivity is increased because the entire volume of the electrode is active. “
The researchers recently published a paper on the study in the journal Nature Communications. The study also involved scientists from Zhejiang University and Jiangxi University of Science and Technology.